Wednesday Word: Silence
There are a lot of aspects to silence. There is the silence that comes when all noise stops. There is the not-quite total silence of the forest. I worked a game last year where the home team, up by five, allowed the visitors to score the winning touchdown with 6 seconds left in the game. The silence was deafening. There was the silence of the Wednesday Word itself as I was off due to my injury. There was the sheer silence experienced by Elijah outside the cave. And there are many other forms of silence if we sit and think about them.
One piece of silence we should pay particular attention to is the silence before and during worship.
If you think back to my arrival here, one of the things I added to the liturgy were periods of silence. At 8 a.m., we use it immediately after the announcements and before the liturgy officially begins. In both services there are moments of silence before the Collect and between the readings. A longer period follows after the sermon, and another one between the call to confession and its recitation.
Silence prepares us for what is to come, as well as opening us up to listen for God. So if silence prepares us and opens us, then the very first place for us to incorporate silence is before any worship service – whether that be the Sunday Eucharist, the Wednesday mid-week Eucharist, or Evening Prayer.
Lent begins next week. This is the time of adding a discipline to our life by either taking on or giving up something. Ideally this Lenten discipline leads to a lasting change that helps us present ourselves as holy and blameless before the Lord.
This year may I suggest taking on the discipline of silence before our worship services? This means holding conversations downstairs or farther away from the main entrance, speaking only quietly as you enter the church, and spending time sitting and/or praying in silence before worship begins.
To help facilitate this, Mark King, our minister of music, will begin the organ voluntaries for both services several minutes earlier than we have in the past. It just may be that not only will you find this helpful, but our guests may also find this time of quiet a lace of holy centeredness.
As the psalmist wrote, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation."